To Teach the Art . . .

The mystery of the origin of our school motto, “To teach the art of living well” continues, although I am sure it is only my mystery and someone out there knows all about it.

After the previous blog, I thought why not just Google it? Surely the original will be listed. So, I was surprised when only five references came up. Four were about our high school and one was from a book that by accident had the same phrase. If it were well-known, as from Shakespeare, there would be tons of references. And, I would have thought hundreds of other high schools would have such an apt phrase as their motto. Apparently, Lansdowne High was unique.

Fred Weinstein has a compelling thought that it derives from a quote by Aristotle that comes close and expresses the same idea, but the attribute inscribed on our school has six letters and the first is “S,” or possibly “J,” since it is written in script. That’s all I can tell from photos.

But, I did learn some interesting facts. As you probably know, the Highland Avenue school was once the high school, but it had no room for athletic fields. That was the primary reason the new school was built at its current location. It was opened in 1927 at a cost of $700,000, a big pile of money in those days, and was considered one of the best in the country. Its builder (not architect) also built the Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon, and the Kennedy Center. He renovated the White House in the Truman administration.

There are two war memorials at the school. The familiar one is the WW I memorial, the pillar with a globe on top where so many class officers were photographed. I always thought it was some sort of student council monument. In our Lahian, Art Mitchell and Marilyn Fox are there. The other one is a WW II memorial that faces the football field that I do not remember at all. Does anyone?

The football field, by-the-way, is officially “The James T. Stewart Field.” The flag pole is a memorial to him. News to me! I think I threw up on it late one Saturday night. Sorry, James.

All this comes from the Lansdowne borough web site. It has some other gems:

The oldest house in Lansdowne is the Mary Owen house at 12 Owen Avenue built in 1732 with an addition in 1790. The firehouse on Baltimore Pike used horses until 1912. Wanamaker’s department store kept their delivery horses in Lansdowne and let the borough use them for the fire wagon.

There is a Sycamore Tree Park at Wycombe and Stratford with a sycamore having a circumference of 22 feet (maybe 19 feet in our day). I have never seen it—has anyone? There is something called “The Henry Albertson Subdivision” that was put on the National Register of Historic Districts in 1998. East of Lansdowne Avenue, it includes Balfour Circle, bounded by Greenwood, Stuart, and Highland Avenues. Never heard of it. Has anyone?

The Lansdowne Presbyterian church has a stained glass window dedicated to William W. Macaleer in 1980. Was that Bill Macaleer’s dad? I remember the Macaleers were active church members. The Anderson twins are still members and would know, but they do not email. Wayne, you were his buddy in high school. Do you know?


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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